This has been “HELL” week for me. My usually calm life of golfing, afternoon naps and evening bingo was interrupted by a computer hacker. 125 of my closest friends and I received an “E” mail from me at my Yahoo address that I was in trouble. It was from me and to me at another “E” address.
I was asking all of my friends and myself to send me money as I had been robbed in the Philippines. My passport had been confiscated and I was prevented from leaving as I could not pay my hotel bill of over $3000. If you responded, it told you to send me money at a Manila address.
Many of my 125 friends know that I worked in 32 countries and by 3pm on Wednesday the 9th I had received over 30 phone calls and about the same number of “E” mails from as far away as Australia checking to see if this was true. What surprised me was all of my friends were aware I retired over 17 years ago. As strange as it might seem, I have never been to the Philippines in my life.
I had earlier tried to send a message to my Yahoo friends but the hacker had destroyed my entire Yahoo account. I did send “E” mails to everyone I could think of from another address. I sent the following message and also recorded a message on my answering machine. “I have not been robbed, I am not in the Philippines but if they wished to send money, I needed new golf balls. Just send the money to my Hemphill, Texas mailing address. We left to avoid the calls.
I visited with people I had not seen or talked to in years and even had an invitation to play golf in Houston. I was overwhelmed to realize I had that many people who cared enough to call or send messages.
My Yahoo account also contained links to some 20 websites I subscribe to for keeping up with world events. When Fox News let Glenn Beck get away, I stopped watching the news media all together. With perpetual 24/7 politics, I stopped the newspapers a year ago and without Beck to challenge my knowledge of American History, news was so slanted it made me sick.
I used my Yahoo account to survive living in rural America. Our closest Mall is 60 miles away and we are 8 miles from the big city of Hemphill, Texas. Our closest Wal-Mart is 24 miles away in Many, Louisiana. If Amazon and E-Bay ever closed, we would be devastated. Well, my Amazon I.D. number was my Yahoo address as well as the 20 other links. For those of you not computer literate, you also have to have a password. When you link up with the sites they ask for your I.D. number and password. They don’t know you no longer have the Yahoo address and when you enter your password, you get a message that your I.D. and password will not work and ask you to re-enter your password and they provide no way to tell them your I.D. is the problem. If you forget your password every site can provide you with the information by sending an “E” mail to your, guess what, your Yahoo address that is now defunct.
Lesson two for the illiterate, it takes a wizard to find a way to talk to anyone at Yahoo, Google, Amazon, E=Bay or the hundreds of other places to buy things. They are not equipped to speak to you as they provide 10,000 probable answers for you to choose from to solve what they have determined to be the solution to all possible things that can go wrong when you buy from them. I had an issue with E-bay a few months back and after three hours of total frustration I finally found a mailing address and a couple of weeks later they did send me an “E” mail but never provided me a way to talk to a human. I just stopped using E-Bay except for emergency items.
My first attempt was to revive my Amazon purchasing ability that I usually use 3 or 4 times a week. After an hour I finally found a way to send them an “E” mail that was promptly answered and “bonanza”, I actually got a phone number and nearly fainted. I made the call and after answering 10 minutes of options to press buttons, I had a human voice ask if she could help me. I regret I failed to write her name down as she was an “Angel”. She was patient, courteous and spent 30 minutes helping get my account straightened out and I was free to order again.
Buying with Amazon has introduced me to some great new friends, mostly at UPS. The delivery people know Norma and I by our first names as we see them more often than our four children and 8 grandchildren combined. It would not have surprised us to see them come by to make sure we are OK if a week passed without an Amazon delivery.
I know what you city folks will say, why don’t they move back to the city? The reason is we enjoy the paradise of living in a County with slightly over 10,000 in the 600 square miles of area. We don’t have one red/green stop light in the County and only four 4 way stop signs. I wake up to see from a window without curtains across a lake that is 80 miles long between Texas and Louisiana. I can hear birds sing, see stars at night and we rarely hear an airplane or helicopter, day or night.
Not unexpected, I have not yet heard from Yahoo and probably never will. I spent a day trying to find a number to call and finally found a way to send an “E” mail. The new generation of online businesses makes so much money they have no interest in customer satisfaction. They have so many customers, who cares if you are troubled.
GOD BLESS amazon.com
I had several meetings to discover how our local school district provides for the education of our children. These meetings provided some impressive results, some which I shared previously. Previous articles exposed the unexpected educational opportunities provided by the Sabine Area Career Center (SACC) and my first visit with Dr. Glen Pearson, Superintendent, HISD.
Dr. Pearson had invited me to return to visit the laboratories and suggested that I visit with Dr. Lana Comeaux, Executive Director at SACC and possibly a school board member before we met again. On Thursday, April 21, I met again with Dr. Pearson and Dr. Comeaux that involved a tour of the new high school campus focused on the laboratories and the Special Education Center. I was accompanied by the Science Consultant for the Harris County Department of Education, Lisa Felske, who is my daughter and was here for an Easter visit.
“WOW” would be a one word description of the visit. We were accompanied by Marc Griffin, high school Principal on the tour. The laboratories are the most modern that I have ever seen in a high school. The facility design that separates the labs from the classrooms is the most proficient I have ever seen. I managed testing labs at Lockheed for several years and the safety features and storage of chemicals was outstanding. My daughter was extremely surprised to see that the lab designs provided adequate space between work stations that is unusual in her assessment of labs in over 50 school districts in the Houston metropolitan area.
One of the subjects we had discussed in our first meeting was discipline. The news is rampant in exposing factual cases of discipline nationwide. Mr. Pearson stated that discipline was under control at HISD and the tour and observations proved that true.
We also visited the communications control center and the available computer terminals in every classroom. We also had observed the “smart boards” in the labs that are state-of-the-art teaching tools in each classroom. With over 600 computers and the technical support, communications operations at HISD are outstanding.
The visit to the Special Education area was an eye opener for someone who finished high school in 1947. Anyone with even moderate special needs would not be permitted to attend public schools in my time. The visit with the teachers, nurses and observing actual methods used to help these students was awesome. I will tell you what DR. Pearson whispered to me during the visit, “When I think I have a bad day, I come visit this area. It helps me realize how fortunate I am and motivates me to stop feeling sorry for myself”. I may have reworded the actual message, but it would do the same for me.
Another rewarding fact, out of the 137 students enrolled this semester in SACC courses, 69 are from Hemphill High School. I also wish a special thanks to everyone we met that were very professional in answering questions and explaining their facilities and responsibilities. Everyone I met sincerely demonstrated that they have the student’s education as their number one objective. Special congratulations to Sherrill Hobbs for winning the Buddy Low award this year. Montez McNaughten, that I know well, who won the award last year, gave Hemphill ISD two in a row.
Unfortunately I did not have a chance to visit with Dr. Chad Moody, the newest member of the school Board. Hopefully we can meet in the future.
Now I have a message to the parents and everyone who pays school taxes to the Hemphill ISD. We are very fortunate to have one of the lowest tax rates in Texas, so no one needs to question the fact that we have modern educational opportunities for the children. I am keenly aware that there is no way to pass a bond issue or raise any taxes in Sabine county. I have been here nearly 20 years and watched several fail. The opportunities that are provided for both our students and parents to acquire free college credit courses with the SACC are not available statewide. Another fact is that all of the new facilities have been provided without increased taxes or debt. This takes professional leadership.
All of these operations have succeeded because I observed teamwork with a dedicated group of teachers and administrators. I had never met Dr. Pearson before my April 7th visit. For those who are unaware, he will retire again after this semester and we all owe him a debt of gratitude for his service. I now have a new friend who I could possibly end up in a boat fishing with soon. Thanks Dr. Pearson and I hope your replacement will keep your “team” together.
Our illustrious Governor, Rick Perry, has exposed his analysis of the education problems with a bomb shell statement. The reason we will have to lay off 100,000 Texas teachers is each local school district’s fault.
He rejected the charge that the $9,000,000,000.00 cut in state funds over the next two years would lead to the mass layoff of teachers. Quote, “The lieutenant governor, the speaker and their colleagues are not going to lay off one teacher, as best I can tell, Perry said.” “That would be the task of the local school districts figuring out how to do the same with less.”
Texas now provides 37 percent of funding for public schools. A little over 10 years ago the state provided 50 percent of the funding for public education. The difference has been made up with increased property taxes.
Perry suggested that the local school districts should just trim the administrative ranks to make up for the cuts of funds. He added, “Over the past decade, we’ve seen a rather extraordinary amount of non-classroom employees added to the school rolls.”
Perry, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and republican members of the legislature have also blamed this on the federal government involvement. What a bunch of hogwash to place a smokescreen in front of them to hide behind.
According to the latest figures I have obtained, Texas spends an average of $7561.00 per student annually to provide K-12 education. The average for all 50 states and Washington D.C. is nearly $10,000.00 per student. Vermont ranks first with $15,139.00 per student. Utah was fifty first with $5,963.00. When you compare this with our miserable ranking of how Texas students are ranked with the same 51 entities academically, something is rotten in Austin, not Denmark.
As a benchmark locally, the annual money provided per student in the Hemphill Independent School District is less than $5000.00. Compared to as much as $12,000 that some other Texas districts receive, someone should be ashamed. I will provide a look at these variations in a later article that will hopefully excite everyone to contact their representatives in Austin. I doubt our State Representative and State Senator even know this disparity exists? I do not question their honesty, just their concerns for our children.
If the school districts are the only ones responsible for the academic performance and spending state money, as Perry stated, I have some real concerns with education in Texas. This means that the State of Texas has questionable oversight on how the 1265 school districts spend their money or educate the children. If this is true, then Texas needs an agency or appointed citizens group to improve any audit of financial and academic performance elements of each district that is currently performed. When parameters are out of accepted range, they would assess the specific causes of any variable. This would require a plan from the district to correct the situation. Follow up would result in an acceptable condition or the state would take over the school district. For those who are not familiar, this is what a private business would do if they had similar conditions.
I feel certain that the some of the 1265 school districts deserve to be challenged. Our Governor and his band of “Pretenders” have declared that all 1265 school boards are equally guilty of incompetence. Without an intense study they have sentenced every Texas child in grades K-12 equal suffering. Action to approve any across the board 20 plus percent education budget reduction for the next two years is irresponsible. Texas leaders have learned how to utilize the Congressional democrats and Obama tactics to just kick the can down the road for someone else to fix someday.
You may have read this past week that Perry and his “Posse” are about to take over $3 billion from the state “Rainy Day Fund” to ease the pain of the budget cuts. I have not found any details of how this affects the proposed $9 billion in education cuts. Sadly this will have no impact on the state ignoring total fiscal and academic performance, they just do not seem to care.
“Someday” is now, we must demand the republicans who have a super majority to stop pointing the finger and do their job. To say the state does not care if the school districts are good or bad is nothing but cowardice. Defaulting their responsibility is about as stupid as a band of criminals breaking into a prison to rob the inmates. Speaking of prisons wait until you see what Texas spends to educate prisoners. Maybe if we educated them during K-12, they would not be in prison?